Monday, October 25, 2010

Homeschool highlights from October

Lydia Joy's projects (a few from her class, a few at home)

The Boys' Projects
Drawing project: Dutch windmills (Pilgrims)
Art project: Fall trees (from here)

Science project: Dissecting owl pellet

History project: Puritan horn books

Science baking project: bird nests
Science project: Magnifying bird feathers (Joshua looks thrilled)

War Eagle!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

More words of encouragement, for those in the trenches

Andy sent more words and verses for me today. He is on his way home. We always have a hard day right in the middle of the week when he is gone. But by God's grace, we faired well. And Andy had a nice trip too, I think. He was doing a mammal and bird survey outdoors all week in perfect, fall weather. He is such a giftest biologist. Even though I give him grief sometimes over his nerdiness, I love that he knows so much about God's creation. He has a gift for remembering both the common and scientific names of plants and animals. It is really phenomenal and such a rare thing these days. I know he was enjoying the time away from the office, and I am glad for him.

I Corinthians 16:24
"Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain."

Galatians 4:6-7
"And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba, Father!". So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God."

Galatians 6:9
"And let us not grow weary of doing good. For in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith."

Ephesians 3:14
"For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being. So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith-that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have the strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fulness of God."

And here are Andy's words to me, that can be a charge to you, too. "Keep fighting the good fight. Your work and labor are not in vain. You are storing treasures in heaven, that on that day when we return to glory, you will have much to throw at Jesus' feet! These children of ours are gifts from God, and He has entrusted them to you. You are doing well, even excellent, with this responsibility. Thank you for persevering and working so hard. Thank you for managing our home so well and remaining faithful to all of us."

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


I so wanted to sit and write about all the things that could make me sad today. I wanted to write about how my husband's travel schedule for work is the biggest kill-joy ever. I wanted to write about how homeschooling fills me with such consuming joy when my life is predictable. And how it swallows me whole when it is not. I wanted to write about how I am lonely today. But then I read His word and decided to share it- in all its beauty, wisdom, and splendor- instead. I think I'll just focus on Christ instead of myself today. How about that?

Beautiful, humbling verses from Psalm 118:
"I will give you thanks, because you answered me; you have become my salvation. The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone."

The verses that my husband chose for me this week from John 15:
"If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love."

The verses from Psalm 18 that he sent for Joshua who is afraid at night when he is away:
"The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. He brought me out into a broad place; he rescued me, because he delighted in me."

Sometimes one has to purpose to find JOY! And with Christ, it's never far away.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Home alone

This weekend my husband went to the Auburn game with his college roommates. On the way, he dropped off the kids at their grandparent's house. So I had the unique opportunity to be home alone for over 48 hours. I enjoyed such luxuries as watching 3 movies in a weekend (Letters to Juliet, Valentine's Day, The Time Traveler's Wife), reading a book cover to cover (Catching Fire), and eating popcorn and Snapple for two meals in a row. It was really nice. I also had lunch with the sweet girl who I mentor when time permits (which has been very rarely these days). That was such a treat. When I wasn't being a complete couch potato, I worked on a few things around the house.

I took my husband's old office area which was unbelievably bare and blah
and finally turned it into a guest room! (Come on over friends and family! No more sleeper sofa!)
I mainly used things we had around the house. I did buy those botanical prints above the bed. They were on clearance at Target for $12 each. They have a dark wood frame that is sanded a little to reveal the red paint underneath. I love that look. The room is not anything spectacular, it doesn't even reveal my own personal taste (the gold bedspread was bought 6 or 7 years ago). But it is a big improvement just in the fact that it houses a bed! THANK YOU Mimi and Papa for surprising us with the Temperpedic mattress for our bedroom! And now you get to reap the rewards too when you come to our house and have a guest room with a bed!

I also framed the art from our art wall. Before, the artwork was just taped to the wall. This is the wall we see at the bottom of the steps to the basement when we are walking into the garage, our school room, or our guest room. The kids' work always makes me smile, especially now that it is displayed a little better.
I also scratched my obsessively-anti-clutter itch and worked on organizing a few closets. They weren't awful to begin with. But a little sprucing will help me get to stuff quicker. One of my biggest pet peeves is when I can not find something and go out and buy it, only to find it later in the midst of clutter. What a waste.
Lydie and I worked on her toys together earlier in the week. She previously just had big baskets for toy dumping. But now that Polly Pockets and Barbies have entered the scene, the big baskets have become our enemies. They swallow up and consume Barbie shoes and the like. Andy got a little nauseous at how excited she was over her new system. The apple certainly does not fall far from the tree.

This stuff might look like a lot. But I spent only a small fraction of Saturday working around the house. It is such a blessing to have a weekend to get rejuvinated! By 10PM on Friday I was ready for everyone to come home. But I stuck it out until Sunday evening and I think it really filled my tank. Blessings to those who also find yourself needing a break! I read this prayer by Ruth Bell Graham that struck a chord with me. It's so, so sweet.

"God, bless all young Mothers at the end of the day,
Kneeling wearily with each small one to hear them pray.
Too tired to rise when done, and yet they do
Longing simply to sleep one whole night through.
Too tired to sleep, too tired to pray...
God, bless all young mothers at close of day."

Friday, October 15, 2010

Recent fun buys

I have had an unusual amount of time alone the last couple of weeks. When I am alone, my favorite thing to do is walk through the flea market. That usually means stopping by the bank before hand, withdrawing $10 or sometimes $20, and seeing what I can come home with. I really enjoy the challenge, cause I'm weird like that.

From my favorite flea market in North Carolina, I got an owl garden statue. She sits in my kitchen and I LOVE every mossy inch of her, especially for the fall time. She costs somewhere around $15, I think.

This week there were two occasions where the kids were all invited to play together for the afternoon with friends. As a result, I had two 3-hour chunks of time alone. Yesterday I went to my favorite local antique market and found this double tier metal basket for the kitchen. It was on sale for $20. I think it was a good buy because it is heavy and big.

And lastly, my very favorite purchase. I saw these little wonders at a friend's house. The windows in the front of our house do not have screens. It has always bothered me in the fall and spring because I can only open the back windows for fresh air. (In fact, the windows were painted shut!) These awesome screens are for just this problem! They pull open and fit in the window snugly, then you just close the window down on the top. If you have weather stripping on the bottom of the windows, there will be no gaps at all. Even if you don't, the gaps are small and wouldn't be a problem in cooler weather when bugs aren't around. We bought two of these screens for $6 each at Home Depot. LOVE them!! **Warning: Picture below from our bedroom contains cat-clawed curtains, peeled window paint from prying open painted-shut windows, and an outdoor window box with wilted flowers. I should obviously be spending my free time around here instead of browsing the markets!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Fall groove

We have finally nailed down our tracks and found a groove for the fall. Here is how our weeks generally look:

(Mondays and Fridays we are all at home in the mornings. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays Lydie Joy goes to preschool in the mornings.) My curriculum choices are here.

6:15- My shower and devotion (ideally)
7:30 Kids breakfast, devotion/Bible, chores, get dressed
8:30 Math, Spelling, Language (Phonics too for Joshua), Reading, Latin
*The boys need my help for about 45 minutes of this 2 hour period. They have become independent learners this year to an extent that I did not expect. I am so thankful!
(9:00 leave for preschool with school work in tow)
10:30 Outdoor break and snack
10:50 History/Writing or project
11:30 Science/Writing or project
12:00 Lunch and circle time
(Circle time is when we work on memory work: verse (trying to memorize the book of James this year), poem, Latin vocabulary and chants, geography (currently states and capitals), math flashcards, songs/hymns (currently America the Beautiful and Fifty Nifty United States)
1:00 Pick up Lydie
*Read aloud during afternoon snack or at bed time
*Book basket time while I cook dinner
**Fine arts Fridays: No history or science lesson. Instead composer study (currently Schubert), artist study (currently Shakespeare), seasonal art projects, geography workbook for map skills, drawing, logic puzzle, and adding our timeline figures to our timeline.

**We take our school in the car on preschool days. The boys keep their lap desks and pencils in the car all the time. I am amazed at how they can continue without skipping a beat! Our goal every day is to be done by 1:00.

**But we seem to take longer on Mondays and Fridays because we have no time constraints. Also, on those days I become Lydie's teacher, too. We work on Horizons pre-K workbook and Before Five in a Row books and art projects during the morning.

**Another positive change: I hired a house cleaning service! These helpers take an enormous amount of pressure off of me! I am SO thankful! Somehow a schedule that looked completely overwhelming a month ago has settled into wonderful, full, but manageable days! This is a good season!

"It rests well with the parent to consider well the tracks over which the child should travel with profit and pleasure."
~Charlotte Mason

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Farm field trip

:: The boys' favorite: the corn maze::

"Cows are my passion. What I have ever sighed for has been to retreat to a Swiss farm, and live entirely surrounded by cows..."
~Charles Dickens

Monday, October 11, 2010

Homeschool highlights from September (belated)

History project: Wigwam

Science project: Mammal reports
Drawing project: The Mayflower

History project: Viking shipsLego Architecture sets Lydia Joy starting preschool Lots of road trips (with built in field trips) Field trip with our homeschool group (Beekeeper)

We got a slow start to school this year. We really didn't get into full swing until September. But September was a really great month academically. We learned a lot, got into a groove with lessons, and traveled a lot. On the down side, it was unusually hot outdoors and Andy travelled almost every week from Monday to Friday. But we enjoyed many days with other family or friends as a result, and that was a blessing. Glad for many highlights from September!

Friday, October 08, 2010

Fall foods

Yesterday I came home from an afternoon at the park with friends and decided I was in the mood to bake. My husband has been working so hard these past weeks, and I especially wanted to treat him. Sometimes I get stuck in a rut with a handful of the same meals. It can't be very exciting to come home to after a hard day.
So I took some fresh Italian parsley, Andy's canned spaghetti sauce from our garden, some fresh eggs from a friend, and some noodles and cheeses and made a lasagna. Then I took the loads of apples from North Carolina and made an apple cake and an apple pie. I grabbed some bread and beans from the freezer to compliment. A little music, some soft white candles, and I hope our kitchen table felt like a haven from the hard day and the chill outside. I am really looking forward to making homemade soups this season, too. There's nothing like a hot meal after a cool day!

Next week, along with apple cake, we will be pulling out some of these from the freezer for breakfast. I think that these baked goods, along with coffee, will make it hard to leave the table and start our day. Yum!

Simple apple pie

6-8 apples, peeled & diced

1/3 cup of sugar
1/3 cup of brown sugar
1-2 T of flour
a squeeze of lemon juice
2-3 T butter, melted
2 pie pastries *I used to make homemade crust. Now I prefer Pillsbury refrigerated crust.
Mix all dry ingredients. Line pie pan with crust. Put half of apples on top. Sprinkle half of dry mixture on apples. Put the rest of the apples on top. Sprinkle the rest of the mixture. Drizzle butter on top. Add the top layer of crust, cutting design in pastry. Bake at 350 for 40 minutes.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Houston, we have a problem

The other day the kids and I ran into some new friends from our homeschool support group. The oldest boy in their family is Jack's age. They talked for a minute and wanted to get together some time soon. On the way out I said, "Yes, we should definitely have Houston over for a play date soon. I think you two would have a lot of fun." J's reply was, "Mom, please do not call it a play date any more. Just call it "hangin' out." "
Later that day he made a strange comment to me. We were in the car, of course, and he said, "Mom, I hope I always believe in Jesus." Of course I asked for elaboration. He said, "Well, I have noticed that some of the teenagers at my church are strong Christians until they become teenagers. Then when they need to answer some of the bigger questions in life they act like they quit believing in Jesus. I really don't want that to happen to me." God bless his soul. I love that he is so humble as to not assume he is above doing rebellious things.
We talked about how a person that has a genuine belief in Jesus can not lose their salvation. When really hard things happen, they might make bad choices, rebel, question basic aspects of what they believe. But for the believer, God uses all of these things to draw them closer to Him in His own time. And the Bible says that if we continue to talk about what angers, confuses, and hurts us with God and one another, searching for answers and comfort through His word and prayer, that God will use all things for His glory and our good (and many times He does so without these avenues because of His amazing grace). We will always know that He loves and cares for us because the Holy Spirit is our Comforter. And he replied, "Oh. Well, that's good. I think I believe that, too. Thanks, Mom."
I am beginning to wake up and realize that I am not raising a little boy any more. Although he is about as innocent and naive as a ten year old can be, he is definitely a pre-teen now. Life is gradually changing around here!
*The recent picture above just melts my heart. One minute he is thinking about a childish game, and the next minute he is thinking about the immortality of God. Praying that we can provide a steady, warm, trusting environment for him as he continues to sort it all out.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Trip to the mountains

It's official. I love the mountains more than the beach. My heart is fickle and weak for the clean, sweet air, slow pace, appreciation for arts and crafts and music, and the spectacular views. And I am particularly in love with Asheville, North Carolina. Andy and I used to make a yearly trip there to stay with his precious Aunt Glenna every October. But for various reasons we had not been there in five years! We took advantage of Andy's work trip to Hendersonville, the town next door, and went with him last week. Wednesday evening we packed up dusty jackets from storage, mud boots and play clothes, and our school books and headed for the mountains. We had a wonderful 5 days. These trips are one of my favorite perks of homeschooling. When I feel a little suffocated from being with little people 24/7, I will remember how exhilarating it is to have the freedom to take our school on the road and see the surrounding states together with books in tow.

The perfect family hike: 2.2 beautiful miles

Apple orchard/organic farm trip
Our new favorite restaurant: The Fiddlin' Pig
::Bluegrass, bbq, dancing::

Hamburgers and s'mores in Aunt Glenna's backyard

My FAVORITE antique market: Screen Door